Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Monitoring Manual

The HELCOM Monitoring Manual is developed to support the implementation of the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy and to follow-up commitments made under Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) for thoseContracting Parties of HELCOM that are also EU Member States. Full background information and general introduction to the HELCOM Monitoring Manual can be found in the  introduction

The Monitoring Manual provides a catalogue listing of all existing marine monitoring carried out in the Baltic and their links to indicators developed to assess progress towards Good Environmental Status (GES). The information is organized along 11 main monitoring programmes or grouped according to 16 thematic programme topics and displayed in programme info sheets (pdf). The level of regional coordination currently varies between topics while it is the ambition to develop HELCOM coordinated monitoring for all programmes.

The Monitoring manual refers to the existing HELCOM manuals and guidelines where more detailed information e.g. on sampling procedures can be found.

​Monitoring strategyEcosystem element / Pressure
Monitoring programme MSFD Descriptors
​Birds​BirdsMarine breeding birds abundance and distribution

Marine bird health 

Marine wintering birds abundance and distribution
MammalsSeal abundance 

Health status ​

Harbour porpoise abundance
FishFish, shellfish and fisheries
Coastal fish

​Migratory fish

Offshore fish ​

Commercial shellfish

​Fisheries bycatch
​Water column habitats ​ ​ ​​Hydrography​Water column hydrological characteristics

​Water column physical characteristics

Water column habitats ​ ​Hydrochemistry Water column chemical characteristics 

Water column habitats ​ Phytoplankton Pigments

Species composition, abundance and biomass
Water column habitats ​ ​ Zooplankton Species composition, abundance and biomass D14
​​Seabed Habitats ​ ​Seabed habitat distribution and extent​Habitat-forming species and substrates

Seabed habitat physical characteristics​
Seabed Habitats ​ ​ ​Species distribution and abundance (benthic community) ​Hardbottom Species ​

Softbottom fauna

Softbottom flora

Seabed Habitats ​ ​ ​Benthic physical loss and damage ​ D146
​Non-indigenous species​Non-indigenous species​​Non-indigenous species D2
​Eutrophication ​ ​ ​​InputsNutrient inputs from atmosphere

Nutrient inputs from landbased sources 

Nutrient inputs from seabased sources (no info yet)
​Hydrography Water column hydrological characteristics D5
​HydrochemistryNutrients D5
​PhytoplanktonPigments D5
​Hydrographic changes ​​HydrographyWater column hydrological characteristics

​Water column physical characteristics

Seabed habitat distribution and extent Seabed habitat physical characteristics​ D7
​Contaminants​Inputs​Contaminant inputs from atmosphere

​​Contaminant inputs from landbased sources

​Acute pollution
​Concentrations of contaminants
​Contaminants in water​​

Contaminants in sediment

​​Contaminants in biota

Biological effects of contaminants Imposex​ D8
​​Contaminants in seafood
​Contaminants in seafood​Contaminants in seafood​ D9​
​LitterLitter​Macrolitter characteristics and abundance-volume-beach litter

Macrolitter characteristics and abundance-volume-floating litter

Macrolitter characteristics and abundance-volume-litter in biota

Macrolitter characteristics and abundance-volume-litter on the seafloor

Microlitter particle abundance and characteristics​
​Energy, including underwater noise​Underwater noise​Continuous noise

Impulsive noise